COSHG is a community development organisation founded in 1977 to support self-help and social action groups.

COSHG acts as a clearing house and resource for people who want to contact groups, start a group or maintain a group. Self Help groups are made up of and controlled by people who are directly affected by a shared issue.  These groups are often poorly resourced and reliant on their membership to volunteer time and skills in maintaining their group. COSHG maintains an extensive database that includes self help groups and associated organisations throughout Victoria.

COSHG is governed by a Management Collective which consists of member representatives, COSHG workers and those with the skills and interest that will enhance COSHG activities and administration.

The Management Collective operates within a consensus model based on a non-hierarchical structure without formal elected positions. We have operated within a community development model of inclusion and collaboration since our inception in 1977.

Why we work collectively

  • COSHG works collectively because we believe that this is the most appropriate way for us to work towards achieving our goals.
  • This involves developing a sense of trust and mutual respect amongst members of the collective, recognising the value of the skills and experience of each member, with all members having the same right to participate in the decision making process.
  • At the same time, we acknowledge the barriers to equality within our collective structures, because not all members have the same level of experience, skills, confidence and involvement. We attempt to break down these inequalities and power differences through ensuring that all members have access to the necessary information and by fostering a supportive environment where people are free to learn, make mistakes and develop their knowledge. We believe that this process is critical in breaking power structures and barriers to participation in the wider society
  • By working collectively, we are accountable to our membership and open to their input. Access to COSHG is not denied or limited by a hierarchical structure. Through this process of working collectively, we draw strength that carries over into the rest of our lives and reinforces our experience that change is possible.
  • Through this we exercise control over our working environment which is not possible in a situation where people are divided and classified according to sex or age, and the other aspects mentioned above. We exercise control not possible where there are strict hierarchical lines of power within an organisation.
  • In other words, we attempt to put into practice our goals for society.